March 23, 2012

The Bay Lights - Lighting the Bay Bridge to Illuminate the Arts

The Bay Lights is an iconic light sculpture designed by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal. This stunning fine arts experience will live for two years on the Bay Bridge West Span, starting with a Grand Lighting in late 2012.

The Bay Lights is a monumental tour de force seven times the scale of the Eiffel Tower’s 100th Anniversary lighting. Created with over 25,000 white energy-efficient LEDs on the Bay Bridge West Span, this ever-changing, dazzling light sculpture will be 1½ miles wide and 230 feet high – viewable from the city’s northeast side but not by drivers on the bridge itself. Shining from dusk to midnight for two years, it will impact an audience of over 50 million people in the Bay Area alone, with billions more seeing The Bay Lights in media and online.

The Bay Lights is the brainchild of Ben Davis, founder of Words Pictures Ideas, the San Francisco creative agency that branded the build-out of the Bay Bridge East Span – California’s largest public works project – and continues to serve it daily. Inspired by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal’s exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art, Davis began a campaign to realize this stunning fine arts experience – starting with a momentous Grand Lighting in 2012 for the Bay Bridge 75th Anniversary and continuing through 2014.
Leo Villareal orchestrates complex, rhythmic artworks composed exclusively of points of light; his groundbreaking work is part of the permanent collection of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and has earned him prestigious international commissions and solo exhibitions worldwide. The Bay Lights will be his largest public light sculpture yet.

The Bay Lights will put the Bay Area in the global spotlight from 2012 through 2014, and especially in 2013, “The Year of the Bay,” which will feature the America’s Cup, the Port of San Francisco’s 150th Anniversary, the opening of the new Exploratorium at Pier 15 and, toward the end of the year, the long-awaited completion of California’s largest civic works project – the Bay Bridge East Span – within days of the America’s Cup’s finale.
Cultural alliances have been forged with some of the Bay Area’s most creative organizations: Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Black Rock City LLC, Exploratorium, Grey Area Foundation for the Arts, SF Museum of Modern Art, zero1: The Art and Technology Network, Berkeley Center for New Media, Black Rock Arts Foundation, Friends of the Gateway, Maker Faire, SJ Institute of Contemporary Art, and SJ Museum of Art.

Government agencies including Caltrans, The Bay Area Toll Authority, and the City and County of San Francisco collaborated on a thorough environmental review and have worked to finalize permits over the past year in the spirit of helping to ignite civic pride and highlight the important role Bay Bridge infrastructure plays in our lives.

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